8 Jul 2020

Australia to consider limiting returning residents

4:49 pm on 8 July 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flagged the number of people coming into Australia could be further reduced to ease the burden on states and territories administering hotel quarantine.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison .

Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: AFP

It comes after New Zealand also said it would be looking at limiting the number of arrivals in the country via a booking system.

The number of international arrivals Australia accepts has plummeted since March, but Morrison said he would take a proposal to National Cabinet to reduce that number even further.

Morrison did not outline how the number of international arrivals would be reduced under his proposal, but said it was more about "containing numbers" than a pause on arrivals.

"The issue is what the overall level of returning Australians is, and that's why I'll be bringing a proposal on Friday to reduce that load," he said.

"There is a volume that can be accommodated by the states and territories currently but they certainly wouldn't want to see that increase.

"At this time, we don't want to put any more pressure on the system than is absolutely necessary."

He said it would be "completely understandable" for returning travellers to begin paying for their own hotel quarantine.

"There's been many opportunities for people to return. If they're choosing to do so now they've obviously delayed that decision for a period."

International arrivals into Australia have slowed to a trickle since quarantine measures were brought into effect in March.

But Morrison said he was concerned about the load on states and territories managing hotel quarantine regimes.

Some states have introduced caps on the number of international arrivals they will accept each week, and Victoria has suspended all international arrivals into the state.

Over the weekend NSW announced a cap of 450 international passenger arrivals into Sydney Airport each day, saying that could lead to some flights being cancelled.

Police Minister David Elliot said at the time there was a need to keep hotel quarantine "sustainable".

Dealing with Australia's most serious coronavirus outbreak, Victoria has suspended international arrivals until July 14.

The two-week suspension affects roughly 65 international flights, many of which have been cancelled.

Morrison was asked about the issue of travel bubbles being set up with other countries.

"We haven't even concluded in the arrangements with any other countries at the moment.

"It will be some time yet before we even were able to achieve that even for New Zealand or potentially any countries in the Pacific."


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